Quotes from Ben Braun's Weekly Press Conference

Feb. 12, 2001

BERKELEY - Below are selected quotes from Cal basketball coach Ben Braun from his weekly press conference. The Bears host Stanford Saturday at 3 p.m. in Haas Pavilion.

On how Cal finds walk-ons for the program:

'We have tryouts. We answer phone calls and letters. A.J. sent us his resume and said he wanted to come to Cal. We take a look at that. It's important. There's something to be said for people that want to be at your school. Whether you're a scholarship player or a walk-on, if you have a burning desire to be at a university, if you consider that to be an honor and a privilege, you're going to be pretty good. I think all the guys, from Ryan to Morgan to A.J., never asked for any guarantees. They just wanted an opportunity.'

Do you risk being criticized for putting walk-ons in the game?

'I didn't give it a second thought. I just have to go on what I see in practice and consistency. Those guys have been consistent. They deserve to be out there. I've often told Morgan Lingle, for example, there's times earlier in the year when he probably should have been in the game. And he's accepted that. I'm always saying, 'be ready.' I don't know why I say that to him because I know he's ready anyway. Maybe for encouragement. I don't want anybody to be surprised when they go in the game. You've got to feel like you belong, and they do. They're part of it. That's one of the themes of this team. Everyone on this team is a valuable member.'

On Cal's ability to win recent close games:

'How do you learn how to play in close games? By playing in them. Anything you do for the first time, you're not as good at it, and that's no exception. Those are tough situations to be in, especially when you're a young player. Last year, I think we experienced our fare share of those games. Why did we beat Washington State? Because we know to get the ball into Sean Lampley's hands. Maybe a year ago, somebody else would have taken the shots or felt they had to get us back. You make adjustments in games like at Oregon, where we were getting beat pretty bad early. I think we drew back on experience and say, 'hey, coach is telling us it's 40 minutes. Let's limit their looks.' I see more composure than a year ago, win or lose. If we get beat, let's not beat ourselves. In general, games are going to be decided over a 40-minute period, and that's what you try to sell your players.'

On whether this is a good time to play Stanford, having won 6 of 7 games:

'We had won some games heading into our last game (with Stanford), and people say it's a good time to be playing them. I really think it's about what you bring into the game and how you adjust during the game. I don't think it matters what you did before. You have to go after it. You have to summon another effort. There's going to be points in the Stanford game this week, where we're going to have to make plays, we're going to have to take away things. We have to bring energy an effort. We're going to have to play well together.'

Does it help playing Stanford at home this time?

'I don't think it hurts. We're 11-1. But that's not a guarantee of anything, either. That's absolutely not a guarantee. It's nice to be home. It's a fun game for us to play at home.'

Will Cal be in the NCAA Tournament this March?

'That's the direction we're moving. I think if we continue to play well in our league that will be a by-product of our work. But we have to continue to play well. We've been doing that. That's kind of the message our players are getting on a daily basis.'

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